Thursday, we discussed who was the Detroit Lions most overrated player on the roster. CBS Sports’ analyst Pete Prisco said Riley Reiff, but Pride Of Detroit voters ended up picking Eric Ebron with 41 percent of the vote.
Later on Thursday, Prisco offered his 32 most underrated players for each team. Here’s what he said about the Lions:
Matthew Stafford QB / Detroit Lions
You would think he had a bad season in 2015 the way it's portrayed, but it was far from it. He tied for seventh in the league with 32 touchdown passes and threw for over 4,000 yards for the fifth straight season. He has averaged almost 29 touchdown passes per year in that time frame. He's better than his reputation.
Prisco offers a pretty good argument for Stafford. He was one of the best quarterbacks in the second half of the 2015 season, yet was mostly overlooked due to the Lions’ poor record in their first eight games.
Here are some other candidates for the most underrated player on the Lions:
Riddick is hardly underrated by local fans and avid fantasy football players in PPR leagues, but he’s still very much a secret weapon to the rest of the league. Riddick led all running backs with 80 receptions with no drops. But his value went well beyond that (Via Pro Football Focus):
It all starts with Theo Riddick, who holds the best receiving grade amongst all running backs this year. He has numbers of 69 catches for 605 yards, three touchdowns, two drops, and 27 broken tackles. No other back can better Riddick’s 27 broken tackles in the passing game, and he has the third-best drop rate (2.82 percent) at the position.
Despite all of this, almost all focus in the Lions' backfield is centered on second-year running back Ameer Abdullah. Whether Riddick will be a bigger part of the running game remains to be seen, but his impact in the passing game cannot be overstated.
Understandably so, there has been a lot of trepidation among the media over the Lions’ loss of Calvin Johnson. Many believe the Lions don’t currently have a No. 1 receiver on the roster even after their acquisition of free agent Marvin Jones. However, many are forgetting Tate took over No. 1 duties for Johnson several times when Megatron was sidelined with injuries. In a three-game stretch in 2014 when Johnson was injured, Tate stepped up and gained 349 yards and two touchdowns.
It remains to be seen whether Tate can maintain a No. 1 status in a pass-happy offense for an entire season, but he has certainly been underappreciated by most.
Even though Ebron won the fan vote for most overrated Lion, just as good of an argument could be made for him being undervalued by both fans and media. Despite all of the criticism, Ebron finished 2015 13th among tight ends in receiving yards, more than Heath Miller and Owen Daniels.
Ebron is still a player very much on the rise. Entering his third year, Ebron will be expected to pick up much of the slack left by Johnson’s absence. With an increased workload awaiting him, Ebron’s ceiling has yet to be reached as he could be in line for a big year in terms of production. However, that all remains theoretical at this point.
Quin was one of the biggest contributors to the defense in 2014. Quin led the league that year with seven interceptions, with some of them made at crucial points in the game. For a secondary that is filled with young, unproven talent, Quin brings veteran leadership and seven years of solid play. Additionally, Quin has started 100 consecutive games at safety, making him an extremely reliable force in the secondary.